Chapter 62: The Black Spots in the Photographs
When Jiang Zhengkai walked into his own office, he found Yao Tianyu sitting in his chair, staring at something he was holding in his hand. From the looks of it, the Old Man had been waiting for Jiang Zhengkai for a while now. When Yao Tianyu paid absolutely no attention to his arrival, Jiang Zhengkai walked over to his desk and softly asked, “You wanted to see me, Commissioner Yao?”
“Ah! Yes!” The sound of Jiang Zhengkai’s voice brought Yao Tianyu out of his deep contemplation. “Zhengkai, take a look at this.” As he spoke, Yao Tianyu handed Jiang Zhengkai a report and then steadfastly gazed at him.
“This is…?” wondered Jiang Zhengkai as he received the report. He carefully flipped through it and then looked at Yao Tianyu in shock. “Our colleagues at the Material Evidence Division said the black spots in the photograph are an image of a person?” In his hand right now was a report analyzing the photograph that Wu Xiuping had taken. In the report, the analysts at the Material Evidence Division had preliminarily concluded, after thorough analysis, that the black spots seemed to resemble the image of a person. However, due to the blurriness of the image, they weren’t able to confirm with scientific accuracy that the spots were indeed a person.
“That’s right!” Yao Tianyu nodded. “That is indeed what they believe!”
“But how is that possible? The very night that the crime occurred, I asked Wu Xiuping if he had seen anyone. He said there wasn’t anyone in the room.” Jiang Zhengkai plucked the photo out of the file folder and carefully reviewed it for a while. “This person couldn’t have left through the window either. He couldn’t have gotten in or out unless he could walk through walls like some kind of a Daoist deity.” In the photographs, the black spots came from inside the room and moved towards the window, where they finally disappeared outside the window. However, the window remained closed during that entire time.
“Exactly! That’s what I couldn’t wrap my head around either,” Yao Tianyu replied pensively to Jiang Zhengkai’s statements. “The analysts at the Material Evidence Division said that through their analysis of the spectral and radial lines, they were able to deduce the black spots’ main body had the characteristics of a human being. I didn’t really understand their hi-tech mumbo jumbo, so I had the same reaction as you. I couldn’t understand how a person could leave through the window without actually opening the window.”
“Ha! Why don’t those lab nerds straight up tell us that those black spots are a ghost then?” Jiang Zhengkai said contemptuously in response.
“Haha! Good point!” Yao Tianyu roared in laughter at Jiang Zhengkai’s obvious disdain. “Alright, those nerds can go to hell for all I care! Haha. Oh right, have you found any leads in that new case?”
“Not yet, Commissioner Yao.” Hearing Yao Tianyu mention the new case made him feel a bit uneasy. Last night, he’d only thought about spending time with A-Jiao, so he had completely forgotten about the case at hand.
“Don’t worry!” said Yao Tianyu as he got up, walked around the desk, and patted Jiang Zhengkai’s shoulder. “The buck doesn’t stop with you; it stops with me. I’m going to give you all the top cover you need, so don’t give yourself too much pressure.”
“Yes, Commissioner!” Seeing how Yao Tianyu didn’t plan on criticizing him, Jiang Zhengkai immediately responded, “You can trust me, Commissioner Yao! I won’t let you down!”
“I appreciate your dedication,” Yao Tianyu laughed humorously. He knew Jiang Zhengkai wasn’t the type of officer that needed constant supervision. He could always count on Jiang Zhengkai to get the job done, even if he never told him that directly. “Oh, and how is Lu coming along these days?” asked Yao Tianyu, watching Lu Xiaoqiang busily running around in the open working space outside Jiang Zhengkai’s office. “Have you noticed? That kid is a lot like how you were when you were first assigned to the Investigative Division.”
“Is that right?” Jiang Zhengkai noncommittally replied. His younger self must have seemed equally stupid in Yao Tianyu’s eyes. “He’s very capable! He’ll make a good officer one day.” Even though he didn’t completely agree with Yao Tianyu’s assessment that the two of them were alike, Jiang Zhengkai nevertheless had to acknowledge Lu Xiaoqiang’s abilities.
“Good! I have to attend a meeting at the provincial capital today, so take your time with this report!” said Yao Tianyu as he pointed to the report in Jiang Zhengkai’s hand. “Maybe you really can dig a ghost out of there!’ He let out a bleak laugh as he walked out.
After Yao Tianyu left, Jiang Zhengkai took the report and returned to his seat. In accordance with the report’s directions, he very carefully looked over the photographs again. If one were to follow the logic of the Material Evidence Division, then the black spots in the photos really did look somewhat like a human being. If the black spots really were a person, and if one compared the relative size of the spots’ mass to the sex-positioned victims next to it, then one could deduce that this black spot human being wasn’t a very tall one. Perhaps it was a woman? At that thought, Jiang Zhengkai suddenly froze in terror. The image of that woman underneath the bed flashed across his mind once again. Could it be that these black spots and the woman underneath the bed were one and same?
“Inspector Jiang, these are the documents relating to A-Xue and that taxi driver.” Just then, Lu Xiaoqiang walked into the office and placed a stack of documents on Jiang Zhengkai’s desk. At the same time, he noticed Jiang Zhengkai’s face had gone pale. “Are you feeling alright, Inspector? You don’t look so good.”
“Bah, it’s nothing!” Jiang Zhengkai waved his hand, “Oh right, give the TV station a call. Ask them if Wu Xiuping is busy today. You can tell them we want to give an exclusive interview, but only if it’s with Mr. Wu!”
“Got it, Inspector Jiang!” The instant Lu Xiaoqiang received his orders, he flew out of Jiang Zhengkai’s office. In Lu Xiaoqiang’s eyes, as long as Jiang Zhengkai was willing to give him work, the more it meant he valued his abilities.
After Lu Xiaoqiang left, Jiang Zhengkai flipped open the documents that Lu Xiaoqiang had prepared on the latest murder. The documents’ contents were more or less the same as what Zhang Nan had said last night. The only difference was Lu Xiaoqiang’s report went into slightly more detail regarding the biographical descriptions of A-Xue and the taxi driver, Zhao Shuhai. However, Jiang Zhengkai thought these details were somewhat superfluous and unnecessary. They didn’t provide any evidence that could help connect this case with the previous six cases that came before. If you had to point to a similarity with the previous cases, it was A-Xue’s profession as a prostitute.
At around 10 o’clock, Wu Xiuping arrived at Jiang Zhengkai’s office, camera in tow. He stood in front of the office, knocked on the door, and politely asked, “Hello, Inspector Jiang! I heard you wanted to give an exclusive interview?”
“Hi! Yes!” When Jiang Zhengkai saw Wu Xiuping standing outside of his office, he immediately got up and welcomed Wu Xiuping in. “Please come in, Mr. Wu! Please make yourself at home!”
“Thank you,” said Wu Xiuping as he sat down across from Jiang Zhengkai. “So, what is going to be the topic of this exclusive interview?”
“Well…” After listening to Wu Xiuping’s question, Jiang Zhengkai felt it wasn’t quite appropriate to tell him the real reason he’d called him here. It wasn’t like Jiang Zhengkai could just tell Wu Xiuping that it had been a while, and that he’d called him over because he wanted to catch up and shoot the shit. Jiang Zhengkai thought for a while, and decided that it would be improper for Wu Xiuping to come all the way to the sub-bureau for nothing, so he said, “We’re going to have a community outreach event later today. Are you interested in filming it and interviewing some of the participants?”
“That’s great, Inspector Jiang! I’m very interested!” Wu Xiuping nodded gratefully in response to Jiang Zhengkai’s query. Being a journalist is like being a web novelist; if no one flatters you, if you aren’t given any major opportunities, then you’ll never make it big.
“Great!” Jiang Zhengkai nodded as well before he added, “Also, there was something else we were hoping you could help us with.” As he spoke, Jiang Zhengkai smiled slightly at Wu Xiuping. He knew that at this precise moment, he could not let on the smallest amount of nervousness.
“Sure thing, Inspector. Go ahead and ask. As long as I know the answer, I’ll be more than happy to help!” Wu Xiuping enthusiastically answered.
“Perfect! So I want to ask you, that night when you witnessed the murder, did you see anyone enter or leave the room?” Jiang Zhengkai criss-crossed his fingers as he placed his hands on the desk, his body leaning slightly forward. It didn’t matter if he was being real nice or fake nice, his experiences over the past couple of months had made him into the consummate actor.
“No one went in or out!” Wu Xiuping recollected his memories for a second before he confidently answered, “The first people to enter that room that night were the police. No one else went in before that.”
“Here, let me show you something.” He let Wu Xiuping have a look at the portions of the report that discussed the contents of his photographs. Wu Xiuping carefully read over the report and earnestly reviewed the black spots in the photographs. Finally, he shook his head and said, “Inspector Jiang, according to your Material Evidence Division, it’s as if they personally witnessed a ghost floating out of the window.”
“Yeah. Are you sure there were only two individuals in that room that night?” Jiang Zhengkai politely smiled in response to what Wu Xiuping said. He could see that Wu Xiuping held no special interest in things like ghosts and demons.
“Yes, Inspector Jiang.” Seeing how Jiang Zhengkai continued to harp on his point, he repeated himself with certainty. “That room only had two people inside it that night.”
“What about the black spots?” Jiang Zhengkai asked Wu Xiuping rhetorically. He wanted to see how the eyewitness would respond.
“Probably just refraction,” Wu Xiuping answered with some amount of doubt. “Perhaps the camera lens refracted light from another source and superimposed an image onto the location of the window.”
“Alright then.” Upon hearing Wu Xiuping’s explanation, Jiang Zhengkai thought quietly for a moment as he nodded his head. He then looked up again and said, “Why don’t you go and find Liu Na? I’m sure she’ll be thrilled to see you! She needs help sorting through some mail.”
“Hehe, thank you, Inspector Jiang.” Hearing what Jiang Zhengkai said, Wu Xiuping could only let out a foolish laugh. It was the only response he could muster.